- Special Pages
By Isabel Ovalle
DOHA: Hamad General Hospital (HGH) is treating over 2,000 epilepsy patients a year, said Dr Boulenouar Mesraoua (pictured), Chairman of the two-day 8th Qatar Neurology Symposium, which kicked off yesterday. Epilepsy can be caused by different triggers, including trauma caused by traffic accidents.
The event gathered a panel of speakers, including several eminent international and local specialists, who will discuss various fields of epilepsy, movement disorders and headache. Dr Mesraoua, Senior Consultant at the Department of Neurology at HGH, spoke about Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.
This disease begins with abnormal movement in the morning, but is easily controllable with anti-epileptic medication. The prognosis of juvenile epilepsy, said Dr Mesraoua, “is rather good, however, the percentage of idiopathic generalised epilepsy is high, there’s a high number without a cause”.
There are no available studies in Qatar about the causes of this disease, but a team at HGH has presented a proposal to the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) to identify possible genetic or epidemiologic causes of epilepsy.
If the research moves forward, Dr Mesraoua expects to have results “probably within three years”.
He is following approximately 25 patients with juvenile epilepsy; a disease which is quite frequent and affects kids from seven to 16 years. “We have some hints regarding the probable cause but we have no sophisticated study. It seems that it’s caused by a frontal lobe dysfunction,” said the neurologist.
The specialist added that “neurological diseases are common in Qatar like everywhere else; probably the frequency and epidemiology will change in each country. For instance, the prevalence of epilepsy is a little bit higher in Qatar, because we have many traffic accidents which may cause epilepsy, while we also have other causes which are different from Europe and America, India or Africa.”
The first study in the Arab world regarding epilepsy took place in Libya and Egypt, revealing that the data is approximately the same as worldwide. “We don’t know about Qatari population yet because studies have been done, including expatriates,” he added.
Causes of epilepsy vary. It can be inherited, symptomatic which could be caused by traffic accidents or infection and, in elderly people, probable causes can be strokes.
Hamad Medical Corporation holds the annual symposium in February to coincide with the tennis tournament for ladies, in order for attendees to have a social programme as well. This year the conference focused on epilepsy on the first day, and will approach headache and movement disorders like Parkinson’s today.